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Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: More Saratoga & Del Mar = More Excitement
Maracuja (Credit: NYRA / Janet Garaguso)

Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: More Saratoga & Del Mar = More Excitement

The summer racing season’s excitement hit a new crescendo after more action at Saratoga and Del Mar brought great finishes from coast to coast. Here’s who we thought were deserving to be our Three Stars of the Week:

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1. Maracuja

A bit of time off and pace-pressuring assistance from another rival in the 1 1/8-mile CCA Oaks (G1) helped Maracuja turn the tables on the previously undefeated Malathaat, who most recently won the Kentucky Oaks (G1); Maracuja was seventh that day. Saturday at Saratoga, Maracuja initially applied pressure to Malathaat, who assumed command of the short four-horse field. When Clairiere ranged up to challenge three-wide, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. wisely backed off and gave Maracuja a breather. Re-rallying at the top of the stretch, Maracuja dug down deep and caught Malathaat inside the 1/16 pole before winning by a head in a thrilling finish. Next month’s 1 1/4-mile Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga is likely the next stop for both.

2. United

The old veteran is back! After finishing last of four as the heavy favorite in May’s Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2), there was some worry that the 6-year-old United had peaked and was on his way toward retirement. Del Mar’s leading jockey Flavien Prat knew better, keeping aboard the Richard Mandella trainee for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read Stakes (G2) and piloting him to a thrilling late-running victory over the game favorite Smooth Like Strait. Now a winner of the race in back to back runnings, United looks back to his old self heading into the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar Handicap (G2) next month.

3. Caravel

A patiently-handled ride proved the difference-maker for Caravel, who shot past a seemingly loose-on-the-lead Robin Sparkles in mid-stretch to win Saturday’s Caress Stakes (G3) at Saratoga. The victory was her third straight in a turf sprint stakes and seventh from 9 career starts for Elizabeth Merryman, who bred and co-owns the filly and was also trainer up until this race. She’ll now be in the hands of Graham Motion with a year-end goal of making the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar in November.

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